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  • I'm fortunate enough to say that I scored in the 99.9th percentile on the MCAT. It was

  • a grueling 10 weeks of preparation, with 10 hours of studying 6 days per week, and minimal

  • time off on the weekends. There were certain things I did correct, but several things that

  • made the journey much more painful than it needed to be. Had I resolved some of these

  • issues, I would have been able to secure the same score, but without such a struggle. Here's

  • what you can learn from my MCAT journey. Dr. Jubbal, MedSchoolInsiders.com.

  • There were a handful of things I did right that facilitated rapid knowledge acquisition

  • and score improvement. While this isn't a comprehensive list, these are the key factors

  • I urge other MCAT examinees to prioritize in their own study approach.

  • The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Section, or CARS, is unique from the other sections

  • and therefore requires a unique study approach to perform best. Unlike the other sections

  • of the MCAT, it requires no outside knowledge to answer any of the questions. The test makers

  • want to assess your ability to comprehend, analyze, and reason through material that

  • you read. For many, including me, it's the least favorite

  • section of the MCAT. It feels tedious, boring, and more of a formality than a true assessment

  • of skills necessary to become a competent future physician. While it's not a perfect

  • assessment, it turns out CARS is indeed relevant, but that's a story told another time.

  • The key in dominating your CARS section comes down to regular practicethink low duration

  • but high frequency. For the MCAT science sections, you do the oppositehigher duration in

  • a single sitting, but lower frequency. With CARS, I did at least 30 minutes every

  • day, 5 days per week, for close to 2 months straight. This was the key element in slowly

  • but surely driving up my score. Sure, at the beginning I focused a bit on techniques and

  • strategies with CARS, but ultimately the biggest driver of my score improvement came down to

  • getting the reps in – a little bit every day.

  • I often compare CARS to training your abs in the gym. The abs are a unique muscle group

  • in that you can train them quite frequently, at relatively lower intensity compared to

  • other muscle groups, yet see hypertrophy and strength improvements without overtraining.

  • Similarly, CARS is best approached with shorter, intense study bouts every day, rather than

  • dedicating a singleCARS dayonce per week. If you attempt to sit down and work

  • on CARS for hours on end, you'll quickly find yourself burned out and experience a

  • rapidly diminishing quality of your studying. In MCAT circles, practice questions and tests

  • are primarily saved in the latter half of a student's MCAT prep. The line of reasoning

  • being that you need to first learn the content through content review resources, and then

  • do testing later to understand question styles and timing for the test.

  • This strategy is suboptimal and leaves several points on the table. In my own MCAT prep,

  • I focused on a higher than normal volume of practice questions and practice tests. Within

  • the first 2 weeks, I took one full length practice test. In hindsight, I should have

  • started even sooner. Every 1-2 weeks after that, I was consistent in taking another.

  • In the final month prior to my exam, I did at minimum 3 full length practice tests every

  • week. The key isn't just to get through the practice

  • test, but also review all the questions appropriately. Only if I was very confident in knowing a

  • question and all its answer choices did I breeze through it. Every incorrect answer

  • had to be thoroughly reviewed, as did every question I got correct by guessing or getting

  • lucky. Practice testing is useful not only later

  • in the study period, but is also a highly effective way of learning content early on.

  • I focused on CARS practice passages daily, and the occasional full length practice test

  • every week or so. In hindsight, it would have been even more effective to purchase a question

  • bank subscription, such as one with UWorld, and get through additional practice questions

  • several days per week from the beginning. We tend to focus on the strategies during

  • the MCAT study period, but the importance of the preceding coursework is often overlooked.

  • When I took my first practice test 2 weeks into studying, I hit a 67th percentile. This

  • was approximately 2 months out from my test date, giving me plenty of time to build and

  • improve upon this foundation. Having a strong foundation from college coursework

  • elevates the starting point when you begin your dedicated MCAT prep. In doing so, you

  • raise the ceiling for your ultimate score. Had I goofed off in my first two years and

  • scored a 20th percentile on my first practice test, there would be a much larger gap to

  • fill in order to get a satisfactory score. In my first two years of college, during which

  • premeds focus on their medical school prerequisite courses, I made it a point to apply myself

  • fully in every course. Rather than cramming last minute, I made it a point to study at

  • least a little bit 5 days per week. Spreading out the studying in this manner not only helped

  • me achieve straight A's in these classes, but also consolidated the facts to my long

  • term memory. Had I crammed, much of the information wouldn't have stuck around to MCAT prep

  • time. Although I'm happy with my score, there

  • were several possible points of improvement in my study approach. Had I implemented these

  • changes, I would have been able to achieve the same score with less effort, less time,

  • and less pain. It wasn't until medical school that I learned

  • about proper implementation of active learning, which is far more effective and efficient

  • that passive means. When I was studying for the MCAT, I primarily relied on passive learning

  • techniquespassively reading content review books, highlighting, and rereading those highlights.

  • In doing so, it took me longer to learn and consolidate key facts to my long term memory

  • for test day. I only occasionally incorporated active methods.

  • Since my two roommates were also studying for the MCAT simultaneously, we made it a

  • point to use the Feynman technique occasionally, particularly when we were facing a difficult

  • concept or getting tired studying on our own. My use of practice tests, with in depth review,

  • was also an active learning method. My mindset in preparing for the MCAT was to

  • learn too much information rather than too little. I acknowledged that it would require

  • more time and effort on my part, but I figured it was a price I was willing to pay to achieve

  • a top score. After all, it's better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

  • I remember spending a full evening memorizing every step of the sound conduction pathway

  • from the pinna, or external ear, all the way to the cochlear nerve. This was not something

  • I needed to know for the MCAT based on how it tests these concepts. However, it was in

  • my content review book, and I figured I should know everything within it cold.

  • This may seem harmless at first, but this approach leads to massive opportunity cost.

  • That full evening could have been better spent focused on reviewing content that would show

  • up on the test, practicing CARS, or even relaxing and recharging.

  • One common misconception amongst premeds, including my former self, is the importance

  • of low yield information. I thought that knowing these low-yield details would be the difference

  • between a good and exceptional MCAT score. In reality, this is not at all the case. Much

  • of thelow-yieldinformation in review books is beyond the scope of the MCAT and

  • contributes zero to scoring higher, which is tremendously costly. Additionally, the

  • main differentiating factor for top percentile scorers is almost always their in-depth mastery

  • and precise recall of medium-yield concepts rather than their ability to remember some

  • esoteric piece of information. When I took the MCAT, there weren't YouTubers focused

  • on teaching evidence-based study principles to future doctors. In fact, it wasn't until

  • I got to medical school and was forced to drink from the proverbial fire hydrant of

  • medical knowledge that I was forced to learn a better way to study. Had I implemented those

  • evidence-based learning principles in college, I would have been able to get stellar results

  • in class and on the MCAT, but with far less time and effort.

  • In short, the two primary evidence-based study principles you should focus on are (1) practice

  • questions and practice tests and (2) spaced repetition with active recall. These are the

  • two most effective methods in not only memorizing information, but also learning them deeply

  • such that you can apply that knowledge effectively on test day.

  • If I could do it all over again, I would focus on four key principles:

  • Focus on only the necessary content – some people say to focus only on high-yield content,

  • which isn't exactly best practice. There is some medium and rarely some low yield content

  • that you will be tested on. Since you won't know what will and will not be tested on the

  • MCAT, it's critical to find high yield resources that have done the heavy lifting for you,

  • so that you don't over- or under-prepare. Incorporate active learning methods – the

  • bulk of your time spent studying should be spent on (1) practice questions and (2) spaced

  • repetition with active recall. Content review resources are useful to first learn and understand

  • the information, but after that, save them as a reference for when you don't understand

  • something that comes up in your practice questions or flashcards. You should not do multiple

  • front-to-back passes of your content review resources as a study technique. This is a

  • highly time consuming and inefficient way to strive for content mastery.

  • Follow a sustainable study schedule – I was lucky in that I didn't burn out despite

  • having a grueling 10 week study schedule. Had I pushed my test date back at all, I would

  • have certainly burned out and my score would be compromised. Remember that the quality and

  • strategy of your studying is arguably more important than the quantity of your studying.

  • You'll end up with a better score through high intensity, intelligent study approaches

  • for 5 hours per day rather than medium intensity, passive study approaches for 10 hours per

  • day. Use the best quality resources - if the goal

  • is to get the highest score possible, then it doesn't pay to be overprepared. You want

  • to only study what you need to study, and spend extra time honing your test taking skills.

  • If I could do it all over again, I'd heavily rely on Memm, an evidence-based and highly

  • effective MCAT study tool I had the pleasure of co-founding.

  • We've now had enough Memm users take the MCAT that we have data to report, and we were shocked

  • by the numbers. The average Memm user scored a 514.3 on test day, which is the 90th percentile,

  • and had an average score improvement of close to 12 points! Yeah, we know it's effective,

  • but even we were surprised by those results. The numbers don't lie, and there's a reason

  • over 95% of our users rate us 5 stars. Memm is an insanely effective MCAT study tool,

  • and it makes sense. It was designed by two 99.9th percentile MCAT scorers with extensive

  • MCAT tutoring experience, and we leveraged the latest in evidenced based learning science

  • in a single, easy-to-use-tool. Sign up for a 7 day free trial at memm.io and use the

  • coupon code CRUSHINGIT for 10% off your subscription. Link in the description.

  • If you enjoyed this video, check out my other MCAT videos, and go check out Memm. You won't

  • regret it, I promise. Much love, and see you there.

I'm fortunate enough to say that I scored in the 99.9th percentile on the MCAT. It was

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Regrets of a 99.9th Percentile MCAT Score

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    Summer posted on 2021/06/12
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